SAVED BY THE CLOUD
TSTT Corporate Communications
As the COVID-19 pandemic swept the globe, the role of Information Communications Technology (ICT), in particular, Cloud-based services, surged to the forefront in keeping economies and communications functioning while restricting the spread of the disease.
The sudden, skyrocketing spike in demand for broadband and Cloud based services may have overwhelmed systems in some places. However, TSTT’s investment in its infrastructure and human resources, particularly its world class Data centre and VMware verified cloud, saw it standing rock steady when the world slowed down, robustly supporting its customers as they sought to respond to the new realities.
TSTT’s General Manager Enterprise Services, Ian Galt - with 40 plus years of experience in the ICT and telecommunications industry and a clear understanding of the benefits Cloud technology brings to business - chats about Cloud in the following Q&A. Galt provides insight on the role Cloud can play as Trinidad and Tobago’s business sector finds its footing in a vastly changed and uncertain world.
Q1 - How can Cloud-based services make a difference to a company’s costs and efficiency?
Galt - Let’s say you have a small call centre with ten agents, there is a national crisis and your business is not categorised as an essential service, so now your staff cannot get to the office and your call centre is closed. If you had a hosted PBX service, like TSTT’s, the call centre agents could simply pick up their desk phone, take it home and, once they connect to the internet and type in their unique teleworker password, the phone would connect securely to the Cloud and it would be as if they were back in your call centre.
Now, just imagine these agents also needed to connect to the corporate database of customers but they are at home and the corporate database is only accessible from within the office’s Local Area Network (LAN) environment. If this database was on our Cloud then it could be incorporated into the call centre solution so that the agent could also connect to that database.
As a business owner, ask yourself: Why am I paying for this expensive real estate to host my staff and host my servers? Why am I paying for networking and expensive switches to connect them to the database? Why are my employees leaving their homes at 5:30 a.m. and not returning until 7:00 or 8:00 p.m. just to work a seven-hour day? Maybe, I could implement a work from home or staff rotation policy, assist my staff in a one-time fee to set up a small office in their home and perhaps subsidise some of their utilities and internet.
The result would be lower costs of running your call centre, lower costs of maintaining support infrastructure, and happier staff - because they now have 1,000 extra hours per year saved in travelling time that could be used to attain a better work life balance. To top it all off you would still be able to monitor their productivity through AI software, so you know your staff is working and being productive.
Q2 - What would you say to SME owners who think that the Cloud is pie in the sky?
Galt - I would argue that being on the Cloud may be as beneficial to SMEs as it is to big business. The benefit of the Cloud is that it is a model that can fit any business, of any size. It is a pay as you use model so if your business is a small firm with a few phones and a couple of servers, you can still benefit; if your business is seasonal then the Cloud allows you to add additional resources when required and then reduce them when not needed.
I call it the fourth utility and - like water, electricity or gas - whatever is needed can be piped right into your facility.
Q3 - What do you see happening to businesses that do not use the Cloud effectively?
Galt - I strongly believe that NOT moving to the Cloud in some manner is going to have a detrimental effect on any business. Cloud services are enablers that free up a business’ resources to focus on their core business. Let TSTT worry about the servers and the infrastructure; let us have the sleepless nights when servers need to be upgraded or an application is not performing as well as it should be. Let your highly qualified IT staff focus on generating revenue for your business and not just be viewed as a cost centre. Let them focus on innovative ways of reaching your customer. Let them develop apps to streamline business processes to make your business run more smoothly. IT professionals love to create. They love to try new things so having to maintain servers is a waste of this valuable resource.
Q4 - What can Trinidad & Tobago’s business sector achieve if it embraced Cloud technology?
Galt - Geographically, T&T is uniquely positioned in the Caribbean. We do not typically have the climatic issues that commonly affect the rest of the region. We also have a very modern ICT infrastructure - fibre to the home, 4G mobile networks, a Tier III data centre and plenty of fibre routes off the island connecting us to the rest of the world.
This infrastructure, along with our location, opens up the rest of the Caribbean market to businesses in Trinidad and Tobago. TSTT already offers our Cloud services up the islands. We foresee huge growth in these countries as Trinidad and Tobago can very effectively support these markets. TSTT’s Cloud service offers our Caribbean colleagues an alternative to hosting overseas with some of the global players. We are governed by local laws and policies that ensure data is secure.
There is no reason we cannot be a regional hub for a number of IT services supplied to the region and beyond. It would be very rewarding for T&T to see home grown Software as a Service and other Cloud services delivered locally and overseas.
Wouldn’t it be amazing to see an IT, Cloud-based business on the scale of Uber or AirBnb born in Trinidad and Tobago?